The Wild West

A professionally charitable person might say their real enemy was modernity. The West had shut down and the party was over.

– Hackberry Holland in “House of the Rising Son” by James Lee Burke

Texas Ranger Holland was ruminating about the violence in the West at end of the 19th century in Burke’s newest novel.  The continuing gun violence on a daily basis may not be about guns or religion per se, or even violence itself, but about people who are not at all comfortable with modern life itself. Western modernism has brought the world to no longer being well-disposed towards religion and a worldview aimed towards a progressive force promising to liberate humankind from ignorance and irrationality.

A complex topic, more on modernity here.

Perhaps the mental health focus has become misdirected. Perhaps we should look less at the diagnosed and more at the disaffected. We can attempt systems to treat the former, but what do we do about the millions who are really, really unhappy with life in the 21st century?


Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.
– Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)

So now, another episode of gun violence, this time a Planned Parenthood site. White guy captured alive after killing a cop (and others). We have a fascist white man running for president (with millions of supporters) stoking fear and hatred, with the other candidates his party not far behind in rhetoric.

I played the weapons and violence game a long time ago in a land far, far away. When today’s domestic violence happens, daily it seems, I take a deep breath and go numb for a few minutes. The lack of compassion, mindfulness and logical thinking in the responses is what hurts the most. The rote replies of most politicians is sickening (I almost wrote political leaders, but I’ve stopped using those two words together).

A walk in the woods is needed.